by Linda Mills Woolsey
For months we’ve been stirring and stirring
strange thoughts, awash in a sea of angers,
watching ideas swirl, their colors streaky,
And I keep thinking about that July morning
back in 1964, Louise teaching us to play
gin rummy at the dining room table
of her house in town.
How we felt more than heard the boom—
the floor trembling against our feet,
teacups chattering in the china cabinet.
How Louise paused
holding her card in the air with bony fingers,
her blood-red nails, how she looked up, her
green-black hair lacquered into place,
her face slipping open.
How small hairs pricked at the nape of my neck
when the phone rang. How at the cyanamide plant
the earth roared as the first blast flung
raw flesh, rag, and bone—
human confetti splashed against the astonished
woods. How for days, volunteers from all over
gathered the pieces. How over in shed three
Will Wallace went on
stirring his batch while the earth rocked under
his feet and the shed walls began to smoke.
How he just kept stirring those
till the batch was blended, till it reached
just the right chemical equilibrium.
How he kept stirring till the job was done.
How his crew walked out alive.
Linda Mills Woolsey’s poems have appeared in Anglican Theological Review, The Cresset, Christian Century, Coal Hills Review, Relief, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and other journals. A native of Western Pennsylvania and Emeritus Professor of English at Houghton College, she lives in Rushford, NY with her husband, two cats and a comforting stash of books.